"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 24 February 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; A Place of One's Own

Virginia Woolf said that a writer needed 'a room of one's own'  and I am absolutely in agreement with her.  It must also be acknowledged though, that not everyone has the luxury of so much space; especially if you have children to accommodate.  Nevertheless, keeping a dream of your ideal writing environment tucked inside your mind will only spur you on to write your way to that reality.

For me, the ideal writing environment is a large wood paneled study/library with dark wooden furniture, a pigeon-holed desk,  leather armchairs pulled up to a roaring log fire and french windows opening out onto a balcony or veranda with a patio table for outdoor summer writing.  Sadly my tiny semi is no match for this grand design.  But I have kept the image with me throughout my writing career - indeed, this dream is a remnant of my childhood imagination, when I would wish I had a whole room full of books and one of my favorite places to go was the local Victorian library, where dark wood shelves filled with books towered high above my tiny stature.

Not having such a study to call my own, for years I wrote wherever I could carve out a bit of space and time. As a university student I wrote at an old battered computer desk, tucked in a corner of the kitchen; later I wrote at the dining table, or at the patio table in the garden if it was sunny and quiet.  If I have a busy day where I am driving around running errands and attending dance/skate classes,  I will park up and write in my car using a clipboard resting against the steering wheel as my desk; this way I manage to fit in a few minutes writing time as I go about my day.  Right now its 6:30am - I'm not ready to get up yet, but I am ready to write; a quick fluffing up of the pillows, a shake of the four poster canopy to make the most of the light; a cup of morning coffee as the laptop wakes up and here I am, cozily blogging away from the comfort of my bed.   I often write in bed; it is the place of dreams after all, and writing is the business of sharing dreams.

Some years ago I turned my spare bedroom into a little study.  This is where my childhood dream shows signs of coming true, as I have dark wooden furniture, a pigeon-holed escritoire desk, a brown leather armchair and the spice red walls are lined with bookcases,  filled to the brim with hundreds of books.  Because I am a recording artists too, I have set up one corner of this room as a tiny studio with my professional  microphone, pop filter and mic stand, conductor stand for lyric sheets (Confession; I don't always remember the words to my own songs!lol) vocal spray and voice training tools.

I spend so much time in this room and it has become the center of my working life.  Its the quietest room in the house with the books keeping the heat in and the noise out.  Sometime I just pull up the leather footstool, settle in the armchair and read a great novel, or correct page proofs.  My study doesn't have a log fire, or a french windowed balcony, but its a room of my own dedicated to my writing and I am lucky to have it.   As I am in this room so much I make it magical with artwork by Brier and Victoria Frances hung on the walls,
floor standing candlesticks holding creamy church candles, scented jar candles and incense burner on the desk, a collection of seasonal green man plaques, a couple of Lord of the Rings goblets, gifts from other authors, artists and musicians, and items that inspire me like my thistle paper weight and note block.  I also have a globe bar which I refer to fondly as 'the tuck shop'! Designed to hold bottles of alcohol, mine is filled instead with bags of boiled sweets, crisps and biscuits -treats to keep me going when the writing has me held hostage!

The most important thing you can do for yourself as a writer is carve out a space for your creativity.  It need not be a whole room; perhaps a corner of a room, or a drawer would suffice?  How about a fold away computer stand, or even just a laptop tray? Just something that says "I am a writer and this is where I write"  The bottom line is that no-one will take your work as a writer seriously unless you do.  Make yourself a space and a time to create. If you already have a writing station, give it a sort out and a spruce up; get something pretty or magical to enhance it. Enjoy the space.  You could also think of putting together a treasure map of your dream study and keep this in your current writing space to remind you of what you are working towards.  Give your inner writer a place to call home, a place to belong - a place of one's own.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

SHIMMER SPELL; The Gothic Tarot Deck by Joseph Vargo

As you are probably aware by now I love the Gothic genre in art, music and literature.  I really like the dark imagery these forms of art draw upon, and they way the genre challenges one to think about things which society generally shuns, for example death, mental illness, trickery and so on.  So I was delighted when my email buddy  Joseph Vargo sent me his deck of tarot cards for review as I am a fan of his work.  I first came across Joseph's art work in The Gothic Shop in Whitby where they were selling his calendar and I was instantly drawn to the shadowy Byronic heroes and fragile maidens depicted in his illustrations.  For those of you with some knowledge of tarot this traditional deck of 78 cards is a dark dream of a tool, featuring the Major and Minor Arcana. Step into the imaginative world of this acclaimed Gothic artist  and allow his illustrations of vampires, gargoyles, ghosts and dark angels to offer guidance as you read the spread. The set includes a 24 page instruction booklet. A 224 page book The Gothic Tarot Compendium is also available separately.   An evocative and atmospheric divination tool, The Gothic Tarot will draw you in to a shadow space of insight. It is the perfect tool for all fans of fantasy art and the Gothic genre. You can purchase the Gothic Tarot deck from www.monolithgraphics.com
Disclaimer; this product was sent to me for review purposes, but this is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Quick Thanks

I just wanted to say a very quick thank you to all those people who are reading my blog from across the globe; from places as far away as Australia, USA, Mexico, Russia, Columbia, United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil, all across Europe and more - really too many countries to mention. I know you are out there reading my work and it boggles my mind a bit that my blog is being so well and widely received, and that you keep checking in to read.  And of course, thanks to all my UK readers too.
I hope you are all enjoying my posts and I will be posting again soon.
Blessings and heart felt thanks to you all,
BB Marie x

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

BOOK NOOK; A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do by Kathleen Baty

I bought this book years ago when I was post break-up and newly single. It was the best £8.99 I have ever spent.  I consider it to be one of the most vital books in my bookcase; if my house were on fire I would grab my cat, my laptop, my diary and this book. I am convinced that it has helped me to see the truth when men around me were lying through their teeth.

It is 1am as I write, which technically means its Valentine's Day.  Many of you will be going out tonight, with girl friends hoping to meet someone or on dates with men you trust; but how many of those men are worthy of your trust? If this seems like a cynical question/post then you need to read this book!!!

Kathleen Baty writes with the voice of experience; she was stalked and her life put in danger by  a man she barely knew who had developed a fixation with her.  Since then she has made it her mission to help women become more aware of the dangers all around us everyday of our lives.  This is not a book of man-bashing jibes at the opposite sex; far from it; it is a book which deals with the issue of female personal safety in all areas of life, from the workplace and on holidays, to being home alone or dealing with unwanted attention from men.  Like it or not, a woman is more likely to be harassed in the street than a man; we are viewed as easy and legitimate targets. If a man likes the look of a woman he feels entitled to inappropriately demonstrate his interest, or to modify her drink in order to compromise her natural inhibitions - he has no such entitlement.

In her book Kathleen Baty aims to give you the tools you need to stay strong when feeling vulnerable, to stand up for yourself when someone tries to compromise you and to keep yourself safe in any situation.  Much of her work would seem to be common sense - but when a girl likes a boy, common sense takes a break as the hormones take over!  A Girl's Gotta Do What A Girl's Gotta Do is not just about the dating game though and chapters on cyber stalking, safe shopping on the high street and online, identity theft, a girl's night in at home alone, workplace safety and relationship safety are all covered here by Baty.  It might seem that her suggestions verge upon rudeness - don't answer your door, or phone, unless you are expecting someone - but being polite can get a woman into a tricky situation.  Those who care about you will understand your reluctance to open the door to a random knock.

For me personally the most important chapter is Party Girl Watch Your Cocktail. Having worked in clubs and bars I thought I was savvy when it came to drink safety, but even I had a nasty surprise. It is a common misconception that drinks are only spiked in clubs by strangers, but this is really not the case. My drink has been spiked with Rohypnol, the date rape drug; not by a stranger but by a man I trusted.  I was lucky in that a friend told me they'd seen my drink get spiked and I got home alone safely; but it was only with the tell-tales signs the following day, signs clearly listed in Kathleen Baty's book, that I understood the full implications of such a betrayal. Needless to say, I didn't see that person again!

Perhaps the most important thing reading this book will do is to teach you that its okay to feel uncomfortable and to cut someone out of your life completely; you are not being a neurotic female or developing a victim mentality - rather your survival instincts have been triggered by a threat, which/who may be closer to you than you like to admit, even to yourself.  This book will show you how to spot the very first seeds of cyber stalking, domestic violence, drug abuse and drink spiking so that you can nip it in the bud and move safely on.  Most of all it will teach you how to be more aware of your environment as a daily habit, so that the chances of you being in danger at all are considerably lessened.  It is one of the most empowering books I have ever read and I firmly believe that every woman, of any age or status, should read it.  It will only serve to make you a stronger, more independent woman and that can be no bad thing.  I wish I could shake Kathleen Baty's hand and thank her for writing such a fantastic girl power book -  I can't do that, but I can and I do highly recommend her book. Please read it and keep yourself safe.
It is available on Amazon UK. Check out Kathleen's website www.safetychick.com and feel free to follow me on Twitter using the Tweet birdie in the right hand side bar.

Friday, 10 February 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; On This Cold Winter's Night...

Snuggle up and dream!

We have been enjoying a cold spell in the UK this past week or so, and there is still ice and snow lying on the ground as I write.  Tonight the temperature is set to plummet again and it has been subzero all day.  I do love the dark winter nights, and I enjoy making my home as warm, cosy and welcoming as possible.  When a cold snap is forecast I like to lay in a store of goodies to turn freezing weather into an opportunity for home pampering, so I stock up on scented candles, bubble baths and salts, mulled wines, chocolates, yummy baked goods, a few beauty treats and a stack of books to read, along with more mundane grocery staples.

I really enjoy working from home. I know that I am lucky that my job allows me to do this, and some of you will have been braving the ice and snow each day to get to work, so it is even more important that your home is a cosy haven from the freezing weather.  A little bit of planning goes a long way and cold snowy weather encourages us to settle down early and just relax.  Hot dinners of comfort food are what your body needs to stay warm and healthy during freezing temperatures and it is normal to put on a couple of pounds during the winter months.  Hot baths, chunky knitted bed socks, hot water bottles to curl up with,  hot chocolate, warm mulled wine or spiced cider to sip on can all add a touch of luxury to a cold winters night.  If you have a real fire, make the most of it and keep the logs burning;  put on the bed socks, pull up a footstool and toast those frozen toes.   Otherwise crank up the heating and play a Fireside DVD on your TV to give you the fireside atmosphere; just the sight of a log fire has an instantly warming effect on the psyche. Burning spicy oils and candles somehow helps to make the house smell warmer too!

Rather than just coming home from work and flopping down on the sofa, take a little time to set up a lovely atmosphere in your home to make the most of a cold, dark winters night.  I love creating atmospheres in my home, whether it be one of romance, magic or just a general feeling of abundance during the sparse months of the year.  To make my home warm and welcoming I use fire-glow bulbs in the wall lights, burn spicy scents and lots and lots of candles. I play music inspired by winter such as Enya's And Winter Came or Nox Arcana's Winter's Eve.  I layer the chaise lounge and the bed with velvet throws and extra pillows to burrow down into.  I bake potatoes and pies, make rice pudding with cinnamon and nutmeg, and sip on herbal teas, lattes, mocha and mulled wine.  Going out for a snowy walk or ride and coming back to the smell of something delicious baking in the oven is one of the joys of winter.  The clear night sky means a hard frost, but it is also a great opportunity to wrap up well and star gaze when night falls early, before coming indoors for a fireside supper of steaming tomato soup and Welsh Rarebit crusty bread soldiers to dip.

Winter nights are great for snuggling up with a good book, so an early night with a novel and something festive to drink can be just enough to recharge the batteries. As the cold weather makes a night out seem less attractive,  a night indoors can be a good opportunity to indulge in divination, scrying with candle flames or a glimmer-glass dark mirror.  Hibernation is the key word - check out my post on Sulking to see how I have mastered the art of hibernation!  Most of all a cold snap gives us the chance to enjoy the place we are fortunate enough to call home.  So on this cold, snowy winters eve make time to snuggle up and dream!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Romantic Rapunzel Reverie

Have you ever lost yourself in blissful dreams of romantic reverie?  Romantic reveries are the ghosts of possibility.  Thinking about an old holiday romance; an old flame rekindled or a passing attraction to someone in the street are all designed to give you the feeling of love, without the heartache.  So what if the holiday fling has moved on or the old flame is now married; there are more pebbles on the beach!  An independent spirit together with a rosy romantic glow might turn you into the prize catch of the county if you play the game right.  Perfecting the art of being the one that gets away is great; just remember to break habit when you meet someone you really like!   I confess to being an unashamed New Age Romantic and I find joy in daydreaming.  It annoys me a little when people assume that because I am a romantic I must have unrealistic expectations of a relationship.  This is not the case at all; I am fully aware that true love does NOT conquer all; that relationships are hard work; that they can  horribly go wrong and life is not a perpetual bed of roses; but does that reality mean that I must cut myself off from the dream of romance?  

Women are romantic creatures; we dream of love from a young age, even before we are old enough to understand the emotions we are experiencing.  Our heart throbs to the sound of a moonlight serenade; we sigh to hear a declaration of love; we smile and get butterflies to hear the sound of our name on his lips.  Even a happily married woman can still have a mad crush on an actor or singer, which can lend her marriage more spice!  The goddess might have crafted women from starlight and roses; romance is how we were made.

Women dream of love and passion all the time; in my dreams I have had a shower with Brad Pitt and married Morten Harket, while my best friend frequently gets busy with Jon Bon Jovi.  Its a natural part of our make up. Romance is important to us, whether we are in a couple or single and fancy-free.  Sometimes the dream of romance can become painful - when you have just gone through a break-up, its hard watching Elizabeth marry Darcy; but once you can sit down and enjoy a romance film or novel without wanting to devour a freezer full of ice cream, that is your heart telling you its on the mend.  

Something wonderful happens to a woman who is coming through the other side of a break-up or a relationship disaster; she reclaims her status as a single women with a tiny shiver of anticipation.  The dream of Romance guides her back out into the world again; suddenly she is aware of the magic of possibility. She begins to explore and enhance her own powers of attraction - a new hair cut or colour; a shopping spree for fab clothes and a new image; a trip to a make-up counter to try out a new look; she is free to be who she wants to be again and this can be quite intoxicating.  Her eyes are wide open; not only has she reassessed her past and acknowledged the mistakes she might have made, she has congratulated herself on regaining her freedom.  Now she steps out of her door with a sense of  "What's next?"  as she is free to look, and to look back at anyone who catches her eye and takes her fancy; "Is it you?" she wonders.  Rapunzel is letting her hair down and enjoying the effect as she turns heads wherever she goes. She enjoys flirting for a brief moment and then swiftly moving on - she is not ready to give up her independence any time soon, she is having too much fun as a single girl, but she takes pleasure in her powers of attraction.  Like Rapunzel's braid she has been tightly bound within the confines of a relationship - now she wants to shake her tresses free and feel the wind in her hair. It seems to me that the one guarantee about romance is that love, when it happens, is always an unexpected  surprise. So go on, let down your hair and see what the wind blows in...